We have one of the most incredible pastoral staff teams that I have ever seen! The 15 people that call North Creek their ministry home make up some of the most creative, talented, driven, type A, self-directed people that I have worked with in 15 years of ministry. And perhaps the greatest irony is that they all currently serve for a combined total monthly of $3500 (not including our salary). Although we work towards giving salary increases and hiring full time staff as quickly as possible, I think it’s a remarkable feat to have a team like we do that works for free or close to it. So, how did it happen? Here are my thoughts on team building:
1. We didn’t hire workers, we created a family.
Most of our ministry life people have told us not to make best friends out of our leadership team. There are countless horror stories of division and deep pain associated with letting work environments and personal relationships get muddy. Honestly, I get it and I’ve seen it. The problem is that it just doesn’t work for our particular DNA. We joke with our team, argue with them, discipline each other’s kids, counsel each other’s issues, and celebrate our own idiosyncrasies. Our strength has always been to let people completely into our hearts, lives, strengths and weaknesses. We are fully prepared for the potential negative reality of that over the next 30 years of ministry, but you can’t change who you are!
2. We share wins like candy.
We spend more time each staff meeting talking about what is going well at North Creek than anything else. Of course there is time to sharpen things up and have the hard conversations about what we need to do, but that is secondary to rejoicing in what God is doing. As our staff shares, it also lets us into their realities. If I hear about a toddler that finally stopped crying when mom left and started playing with a friend, it keeps reality in focus for me. Our wins are all the way from a happy 3 year old to someone’s marriage being restored…and it’s ALL equally valuable.
3. We let people struggle with their jobs.
Here’s the truth…if you are in ministry long term, you will have seasons of exhaustion, discouragement, boredom, etc…Sometimes that indicates an end to that season, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it means there’s a litany of other issues in our teams lives and they need two things: 1. To keep their paycheck and 2. To have a little room to talk about how they are feeling. There have been seasons of our ministry where we were afraid to talk to our bosses about our emotions because we thought that they may assume we wanted out and help us along the way, if you know what I mean! We allow our team to openly tell us what they are feeling and we are also confident that nobody will just randomly quit with no notice and leave us in the lurch. That open communication allows us to both win, sometimes just by redefining our expectation of responsibility.
There’s more to come on this subject, so stay tuned! Bottom line: we are blessed with the best and we spend everyday grateful for these people and their families!